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The U-Lab – a curriculum reform project

The "Urban Research and Design Laboratory" was initiated in 2010 at the Technical University of Berlin. Based on the model of dialogue formats it encourages exchanges between teaching, research and practice, responding to demands of interdisciplinary project work as well as case study-based and activity-oriented functioning in the education of future city planners, urban designers and architects. Through close cooperation with all stakeholders involved in the planning projects, the U-Lab contributes by providing new approaches to the research and development of courses of action for the participatory design of urban space. Employing cooperative working formats students get the possibility to deal with the complexity of their future tasks and fields of action and learn about an integrative and collaborative way of working during their studies.

The increasingly essential transfer of knowledge between universities and other partners is supported by the attendance of students and lecturers in planning projects which are located in sensitive areas and arranged in complex planning processes.


Within the first construction phase a network of partners and contacts from the administration and planning practice was established. First collaborative project proposals with publications and competitions have been successfully completed. As a consequence, the "Urban Research and Design Laboratory" positioned itself as a relevant partner for the implementation of cooperation projects between higher education, administration, district level and the circle of in urban planning involved stakeholders.

In the future, the U-Lab plans to place an emphasis on contributions to long-term research in planning processes within specific topics such as urban housing or the development of temporary uses. Moreover, the focus will be on securing the recognition of events outside the university – the VorOrtLaboraties – which go beyond the university's own support budget. These events allow strategies and research findings in planning workshops and spatial interventions to be tested directly in the planning area and to initiate a process of communication between planners, the local population and interested (professional) public. Key results will be accumulated and presented in symposia and a series of publications. Furthermore, the monitoring of projects over the time frame of university courses will be ensured.